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A Tale of Three Centers

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05-31-2006, 01:48 PM
  #1
beautypersoni
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A Tale of Three Centers

With the re-signing of Jerred Smithson and Vernon Fiddler, and Scott Nichol under contract for another year (all with one-way contracts), it'll be interesting to see which of these three will be making the Predators roster next season, and in what capacity.

Personally, I've never been impressed by Nichol, but apparently Coach Barry Trotz is. I guess I never got to see Nichol play enough, what with his injuries. I think Fiddler is the best of the three, and a potential third-line center. Smithson, however, I love on the fourth-line with Darcy Hordichuk and Jordon Tootoo. (Of course, with the way Tootoo has been scoring in the AHL playoffs, he might jump up a line or two with the Predators next season.)

What does everybody else think about these players?

Anyhoo...

Christopher "Beautiful" Carlson
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05-31-2006, 02:11 PM
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triggrman
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If Hartnell and Hall played more like Smithson we'd be in business. He knows his role and plays it well.

Fiddler and Nichol are good 13th forward guys.

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05-31-2006, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beauty Personified
With the re-signing of Jerred Smithson and Vernon Fiddler, and Scott Nichol under contract for another year (all with one-way contracts), it'll be interesting to see which of these three will be making the Predators roster next season, and in what capacity.

Personally, I've never been impressed by Nichol, but apparently Coach Barry Trotz is. I guess I never got to see Nichol play enough, what with his injuries. I think Fiddler is the best of the three, and a potential third-line center. Smithson, however, I love on the fourth-line with Darcy Hordichuk and Jordon Tootoo. (Of course, with the way Tootoo has been scoring in the AHL playoffs, he might jump up a line or two with the Predators next season.)

What does everybody else think about these players?

Anyhoo...

Christopher "Beautiful" Carlson
Canada's #1 Nashville Predators Fan
"You can never have too many pucks."
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Ideally, I'd like to see two of the three as spare forwards on the roster and the one that plays will be based on a variety of factors such as current production/performance and the opposition.

Smithson is our fourth line center. I like him better than either Fiddler or Nichol. He brings size, grit, and face-off ability that we sorely need. The other two are the ones I would like to see as spare forwards.

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05-31-2006, 02:58 PM
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dulzhok
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My ideal bottom pairing centers:

Third line C: Legwand
Fourth Line C: Smithson
13th forward: Fiddler
Waivers: Nichol

Now all we need to do is find 2 scoringline centers.

Sillinger may fit into the mix as well. I don't see Perreault being resigned due to his playoff benching. We may have interest in resigning him, but I'd bet he'd take another offer from another team first.

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05-31-2006, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dulzhok
My ideal bottom pairing centers:

Third line C: Legwand
Fourth Line C: Smithson
13th forward: Fiddler
Waivers: Nichol

Now all we need to do is find 2 scoringline centers.

Sillinger may fit into the mix as well. I don't see Perreault being resigned due to his playoff benching. We may have interest in resigning him, but I'd bet he'd take another offer from another team first.

I agree with most of that, except I see Legwand on the second line.

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05-31-2006, 03:11 PM
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darth5
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Smithson seemed to have cemented the 4th line spot with his very good penalty killing work, which Preds needed far too much last year,. I see Fiddler as the spare part guy. Nichol is tough, but was injury prone last year. I also see Legwand as a solid 2nd line center. So our team needs a 1st line and 3rd line center to be in business. First line guy needs to be an impact player. I'm not stuck on name brand, maybe it is somebody with real potential stuck on a team with too many starting centers now. This is where the 'Preds d-man for a center' talk comes from-- our org depth to work with another team's depth.

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05-31-2006, 03:28 PM
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Seth Lake
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Personally, I like having all three centers on our roster because it provides us with two younger role players (Smithson and Fiddler) and a speedy, veteran checking line center who gives the team a little more grit when needed. All three are good penalty killers and all three are strong on faceoffs.

Smithson showed this season he can play on the wings which gives Trotz and Co. even more flexibility with his lineup each night. Fiddler has showed the ability to play on the third line and serve as a defensive center with a little scoring upside. Nichol is an energy player who likes to fly around the rink and hit anything in his path. Unfortunately, Nichol is far too small to stay healthy for a full season playing the style he does...ergo...we cannot count on him for anything more than a depth position IMO.

As for adding to the roster this summer, I would really like to see Sillinger resigned and maybe a center like Alyn McCauley or Michael Peca brought in to compete with Fiddler for the third line center position formerly belonging to Greg Johnson (if we do...I say get rid of Nichol). Legwand, like it or not, will probably remain as our club's No. 1 center upon his return from knee surgery and Sillinger can fit in nicely as our club's No. 2 center with occasional time on the first line.

Really, unless we acquire a franchise center this summer, I think that our team is going to be built around balance. You cannot win as a one-line team. You need to have two or three lines each night that have the ability to score. We are stocked with skilled players on both wings and if we can simply provide a center for each of our lines that complements the talent on the wings...then I think we are in good shape heading into next year.

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05-31-2006, 03:49 PM
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Seth Lake
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dulzhok
My ideal bottom pairing centers:

Third line C: Legwand
Fourth Line C: Smithson
13th forward: Fiddler
Waivers: Nichol

Now all we need to do is find 2 scoringline centers.

Sillinger may fit into the mix as well. I don't see Perreault being resigned due to his playoff benching. We may have interest in resigning him, but I'd bet he'd take another offer from another team first.
Legwand is very similar to one of my favorite players...Patrick Marleau. Obviously, I'm not looking at statistics or actual performance...but where I'm comparing them is that both are very good centers, but neither are franchise centers. Marleau had been playing on the first-line until Joe Thornton was acquired, at which point he moved to the second line and gave the Sharks two very potent scoring threats each night.

I believe that if the Predators ever acquire a franchise center and Legwand is moved to the second line role, both he and the team will prosper. Legwand is a very valuable member of the Predators lineup, but his impact would be greater in a lesser role because he might finally get some recognition for all the things he excels at while not receiving as much criticism for the things he doesn't accel at.

Bottom line is that IMO if Legwand was a third line center on any team in the NHL, the team would have to be considered very deep at the position (ie: Sharks - Thornton, Marleau, Legwand, Dallas - Modano, Arnott, Legwand, Buffalo - Drury, Briere, Legwand, etc.).

Re: Perreault...I agree that after sitting in the stands for the first four games of the playoffs this season, he would probably accept an offer for a little less money for a guarantee that he would be in the lineup come playoff time. I don't believe that even if the Predators wanted to resign him (which I don't think they do), he wouldn't return to Nashville.

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05-31-2006, 11:05 PM
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I have to agree with beauty Personified. I love Smithson on the 4th line with Tootoo and Hordichuk, although i think Tootoo could move up to a 3rd line at times. I also see Fiddler being the 3rd line guy taking over for Johnson and Nichol being the extra man. Unless we pick up a true 1st line center which is so sorely needed it doesn't have to be said. If we do, i see Nichol being out with the other two in. Sillinger being on the 2nd, fiddler 3rd, and Smithson 4th. I think it would work out well that way and balance the team out, that is if Trotzy lets the guys play on the same line for more then half a period. I am not a big fan of the amount of juggling he does between lines, sometimes its needed but i think he does it a bit too much, but that is a different conversation.

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06-01-2006, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Predator
...although i think Tootoo could move up to a 3rd line at times.
I'm anxiously awaiting whether or not Tootoo gets an increased role. Both he and Upshall would be a fun set of wingers on the third line. If you combine that with a savvy, athletic veteran center, we can play the speed game that has made so many of these playoff teams successful. We could run a two-man forecheck that would break opposing defenses will to make the smart pass. Tootoo is intriguing because a lot of us didn't really see a whole lot of scoringline potential, but with Noel's recent comments, our eyes have opened up to that possibility. Tootoo had been a great goal scorer and good point producer on the WHL level and seems to be showing his skills in the AHL when it counts the most. His current play and Noel's comments shows me he's got what it takes to produce at the NHL level.

I don't think he'll be a 30 goal scorer in the NHL level, but if he'd have played a full 82 games, he was on pace for around 10 goals and 25 points. That's not bad for fourth line ice time with no powerplay duty. If you give him the ice time given to Adam Hall last year (9:41 ES, 3:50 SH, 3:15 PP), there's no reason to think he wouldn't have well outscored Adam Hall's 29 points. Who knows, if he matched Hall's PP point production, Tootoo might have come close to 20 goals and 40 points. If he works hard on his overall game (especially defense) over the offseason, I think he could replace Adam Hall without missing much of a beat. He's a much bigger player than Hall on the ice, 8 steps quicker, a much more dangerous forechecker, and a bigger spark.

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06-01-2006, 05:38 PM
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Darth Predator
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyClause
I'm anxiously awaiting whether or not Tootoo gets an increased role. Both he and Upshall would be a fun set of wingers on the third line. If you combine that with a savvy, athletic veteran center, we can play the speed game that has made so many of these playoff teams successful. We could run a two-man forecheck that would break opposing defenses will to make the smart pass. Tootoo is intriguing because a lot of us didn't really see a whole lot of scoringline potential, but with Noel's recent comments, our eyes have opened up to that possibility. Tootoo had been a great goal scorer and good point producer on the WHL level and seems to be showing his skills in the AHL when it counts the most. His current play and Noel's comments shows me he's got what it takes to produce at the NHL level.

I don't think he'll be a 30 goal scorer in the NHL level, but if he'd have played a full 82 games, he was on pace for around 10 goals and 25 points. That's not bad for fourth line ice time with no powerplay duty. If you give him the ice time given to Adam Hall last year (9:41 ES, 3:50 SH, 3:15 PP), there's no reason to think he wouldn't have well outscored Adam Hall's 29 points. Who knows, if he matched Hall's PP point production, Tootoo might have come close to 20 goals and 40 points. If he works hard on his overall game (especially defense) over the offseason, I think he could replace Adam Hall without missing much of a beat. He's a much bigger player than Hall on the ice, 8 steps quicker, a much more dangerous forechecker, and a bigger spark.
agreed. I think even now Hall could be replaced with Tootoo and we actually might get a bit better. I am not huge oh Hall, he is a decent player, i just dont think he can produce like Tootoo, given the chance to Tootoo. It has been said since Tootoo was drafted he could be a 20 goal a year kind of guy. I fully believe that. I would really like to see him get more ice time. He discipline this year was tremendous. I was really surprised at that. I guess Trotzy sending him down that one time saying he wasn't playing up to his potential kinda stuck finally. I think given the right oppurunity he can be close to 35 pts. a year.

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06-02-2006, 12:44 PM
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beautypersoni
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLake
Really, unless we acquire a franchise center this summer, I think that our team is going to be built around balance. You cannot win as a one-line team. You need to have two or three lines each night that have the ability to score. We are stocked with skilled players on both wings and if we can simply provide a center for each of our lines that complements the talent on the wings...then I think we are in good shape heading into next year.
In light of how well Buffalo and Carolina have played this past season and in the playoffs - all based on getting scoring from everywhere on the team - I agree with this wave of thought.

Sadly, due to the Sabres' ravaged defensive corps, my pre-playoff prediction that Buffalo would win the Stanley Cup from Edmonton in the finals won't be coming true.

Anyhoo...

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06-02-2006, 12:46 PM
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beautypersoni
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Predator
I am not a big fan of the amount of juggling he does between lines, sometimes its needed but i think he does it a bit too much, but that is a different conversation.
I'm also of the same opinion.

Anyhoo...

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06-02-2006, 12:55 PM
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I don't think we necessarily need a #1 center. I'm happy with David Legwand (as long as he stays healthy) on the first line with Paul Kariya and Martin Erat (or Scott Hartnell).

IMO, we would do fine with a #2 level center, as long as he is big in size and decent in all areas of the game. Then I'd like the team to re-sign Mike Sillinger to center the third line, and have Jerred Smithson or Vernon Fiddler center the fourth.

Scott Walker is expendable IMO, and Scottie Upshall should take his place on the second line. And though I'm not a fan of so much line-juggling, I'd be interested to see Jordin Tootoo and Adam Hall switched up now and then between the third and fourth lines, to see how Tootoo does on third.

IMO, Tootoo could become a Tie Domi type player - tough, and a scoring threat. And Hall was, IMO, the most under-rated player on the team this past season, so I'd like to keep him around.

Anyhoo...

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06-02-2006, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beauty Personified
IMO, we would do fine with a #2 level center, as long as he is big in size and decent in all areas of the game. Then I'd like the team to re-sign Mike Sillinger to center the third line, and have Jerred Smithson or Vernon Fiddler center the fourth.
Matt Cullen fits your description. He's a UFA and has put up pretty decent points this past season, and he hasn't had too many injury problems in his career. He's been pretty solid for Carolina in the playoffs, as well. He's basically their third line center behind Staal and Brind'Amour.

He won over 52% of his draws this season and almost put up 25 goals and 49 points seeing ice time as juicy as Adam Hall's. He's making under $700k right now but will be in for a decent raise. If he wants anything more than third line ice time, he'll have to bail on Carolina. He's big, though he doesn't use his size, and can skate pretty effectively. He also has a defensive conscience.

Not sure how intriguing this is to Poile as we could have had him last year for almost nothing and passed on it. He's a passable solution at center and one that could allow us to open the purse strings in an attempt to solve our defensive problems.

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06-02-2006, 02:13 PM
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Arkhipov hasn't looked bad, and I believe he is an RFA for you guys?

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06-02-2006, 02:19 PM
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Arkhipov hasn't looked bad, and I believe he is an RFA for you guys?
You can keep him...he won't be resigned.

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06-06-2006, 11:28 PM
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I don't think Cullen is the answer. He's a good 3rd liner, but I don't think he can be a consistent 2nd line scoring centre.

IMHO

***Insert trade/fa pickup here***
Legwand
Fiddler/Sillinger
Smithson
-
Nichol

I agree with SLake. Getting a #1 centre and moving Legwand to #2 would be great.

I say re-sign Sillinger OR Perrault, but not both, to cover Legwand WHEN he gets injured.

Your UFA options are - Savard (bad defensively and expensive), Arnott (not a true #1 centre) - otherwise you have to swing a trade.

If I'm a rival GM, I'm not trading one of my gun centres to Nashville without a blue-chipper coming the other way (see Lecavalier proposal - not mine - on FA board).

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06-07-2006, 09:36 AM
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SmokeyClause
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burgess1978
I don't think Cullen is the answer. He's a good 3rd liner, but I don't think he can be a consistent 2nd line scoring centre.

IMHO

***Insert trade/fa pickup here***
Legwand
Fiddler/Sillinger
Smithson
-
Nichol

I agree with SLake. Getting a #1 centre and moving Legwand to #2 would be great.

I say re-sign Sillinger OR Perrault, but not both, to cover Legwand WHEN he gets injured.

Your UFA options are - Savard (bad defensively and expensive), Arnott (not a true #1 centre) - otherwise you have to swing a trade.

If I'm a rival GM, I'm not trading one of my gun centres to Nashville without a blue-chipper coming the other way (see Lecavalier proposal - not mine - on FA board).
Cullen is not the perfect solution, but for the cost, he might well be worth it. He'll certainly fit the second line center role better than Sillinger or Perreault. The guy has put up 40+ points three of the past 5 years, including 48+ twice. Our centers combined for 142 points total last year. An average Cullen year over the past 5 (excluding his full year with Keenan) would almost be 1/3 of our entire center points. While 45 points is not what you'd want to see from your second line center (50+ is the goal), the Preds have only had one center score above 50 in recent history and that's Perreault, a player who's negatives very nearly outweigh his production. Yannic doesn't appear to be anywhere near the Predators future.

Landing Cullen and resigning Sillinger would give us the best trio of centers that this organization has had in a while. And all three play defense, which is important in Trotz' system. And both Cullen and Sillinger are quite durable, which could come in handy if Legwand gets injured. And I say 'if' because it's not a certainty as you seem to suggest. He's had three major injuries in his 6 year career: Broken foot, broken collarbone, and torn ACL. Three years have been shortened considerably by those injuries. But in three other years, he was almost completely injury free missing a total of 12 games through those 3 seasons. So I'd say there is a fair chance he misses a good chunk of games, but it's hardly a definite. History has shown that he's nearly as likely to play 75+ games.

Savard is not really an option, in my opinion, because he was terrible on defense, and Trotz doesn't like that at all. Arnott is the perfect fit because he can play as our 1st/2nd line forward (we don't really get caught up in the #1 or #2 center labels because those distinctions are rather arbitrary and completely relative to each team), but he's going to come at a steep cost. The beauty of acquiring Cullen is that he should come cheap, he's pretty versatile, and he won't cost us any valuable assets.

And Nashville is prepared to give up a blue-chipper to get help at center. I am confident of that. But the help has to be right. Vinny the Great doesn't make a lot of sense because of his prohibitive contract and the cost to acquire him. He's overpaid for what he brings to the table. He makes almost $7 million more than Jokinen over the same time period of 4 years. That's laughable in my book because I'd rather have Jokinen any day. I think it's more likely to see Nashville land a guy like Mike York. Someone who is a second line center that makes reasonable, but not excessive, money. Ideally, we'd like to see someone bigger, but beggars can't be choosers and I think someone like him makes sense from a cost/benefit perspective.

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